NRA Pistol winner started his military career in high school, learned pistol later

Patrick Franks lifts NRA National Pistol Trophy over his head in celebration

Port Clinton, Ohio - Patrick Franks didn’t start with a love for pistol. Probably an odd thing to hear when referring to NRA’s 2014 National Pistol Champion, but that doesn’t make it any less real.

“My father started me shooting smallbore when I was a freshman in high school,” Franks explained from the Hough Theater stage in Camp Perry, Ohio. “I got older, less interested, joined the military and became more interested.”

Probably a familiar tale.

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From Interservice Champion to NRA National Champion in under a month

Patrick Franks of the US Army Marksmanship Unit wins NRA's 2014 National Pistol Championship

Port Clinton, Ohio - Just as the shooting community was getting use to the idea of this year's Bianchi Cup upset we have another.

This afternoon, Patrick Franks of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit walked off the Rodriguez range as NRA's National Pistol Champion. It's the first time in 14 years that someone besides Zins or Hemphill was allowed to hoist the trophy to the sky. With a final score of 2649-147x, his victory was by the slimmest of margins.

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Title winners and past champs gather at NRA Pistol Championships for team win

Colorado's State Pistol Team

Port Clinton, Ohio - They say you're never shooting against the competition ... only against yourself. If your performance continues to improve then that's all that matters. But there are times when you are shooting for more. More than individual performance. When you're shooting for others. For teammates.

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Shooters of all shapes and sizes come out for the shot at the NRA title

Centerfire shooter on the 3rd Day of NRA's National Pistol Championships in Camp Perry, Ohio

Port Clinton, Ohio - If you've never attended a match held by the National Rifle Association then you don't know what you're missing. The sights and sounds are enough to overwhelming the tamest of all firearm enthusiast, driving one to ask ... why the hell am I watching and not shooting in this thing?!!?!

More of a look around the NRA National Pistol Championships ...

First time competitive shooter arrives on the big stage at the NRA Nationals

Sgt. Lawrence Carter walks his targets back to the 50 yard line at Camp Perry, Ohio

Port Clinton, Ohio - Ending Day Three of the NRA National Pistol Championships on the third page isn't what you shoot for (no pun intended). But when you've only been worried about marksmanship for grand total of 2 1/2 months, it's not a bad place to be. Such is the case for Sgt. First Class Lawrence Carter from Alpha Company, Special Operations Recruiting Battalion out of Fort Bragg.

"Shooting is shooting, but you have to have a lot more patient when it comes to marksmanship," the Sergeant explained. "It’s very precise. Dramatically precise."

More on Sgt. Carter's first run at the NRA National Pistol Championships ...

Competitors facing chance of seizing National NRA crown from the 13-time champ

Brian Zins shoots during the NRA Centerfire Pistol Championship

Port Clinton, Ohio - Certain things in life are certain

Water is wet, frogs should never trust scorpions, and the sun will come out tomorrow. Another certainty, at least in the world of competitive shooting, is that Brian Zins will win the NRA National Pistol Championship. Well get ready for a day without sun.

Heading into the final match of the competition, Zins finds himself 8 points behind co-leaders Keith Sanderson and Nick Mowrer with a 1759-87x. 8 points behind. Not that either man's score of 1767 (we'll leave out the X count for now) is an insurmountable climb. Heck, Patrick Franks sits only 1 point behind while Lange and Henderson are each a mere 2 points away from tasting the Iron Throne.

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2014 National Matches get into groove as Pistol Championships go onward

Competitors prepare for the 2014 NRA National Pistol Championships at Camp Perry, Ohio

Port Clinton, Ohio - Hundreds pistol shooters from all over the United States have gathered at Camp Perry, Ohio, this weekend for the 2014 NRA National Pistol Championships, which continue pressing on today with the Center Fire Championship.

The Center Fire Championship is just what it sounds like. Shooters use centerfire ammunition, which is struck by the firing pin at the center of the round's base. This is opposed to rimfire, which is - you guessed it - stuck on the rim of the base. Centerfire options are usually reserved for higher caliber rounds, so the ranges will be a little noisier today. But that's what everyone's there for, right?

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Marine takes first title in NRA National Pistol competition in Ohio

Shooter lines up for NRA's Preliminary Pistol Championship at Camp Perry

Port Clinton, Ohio - The first title taken at the NRA National Pistol Championships is not part of the championships at all. Let me say that again ... the first title taken at the RNA National Pistol Championships is not part of the overall championships. That's because it's the prelim.

"They shoot the same guns, the same 900 shots, but it's more about preparing for the championships than winning them," explain Pistol Match Director Tom Hughes. "Almost a warm up."

Warm up or not, the Preliminary Pistol Championships still comes with a title, awards, and the envy of those who weren't prepared for the first bite at the apple. It means you're tested, firing true and ready to take on the aggregate charge.

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Sometimes the road to an NRA Championship is more than a road, Especially Roads In Nature

NRA welcome sign at the gates of Camp Perry during the National Rifle & Pistol Championships

Port Clinton, Ohio - Many roads will take you to the NRA National Rifle & Pistol Championships at Camp Perry.

Some are paved with natural talent. Others with years of hard work. But a few, a select few are a combination of both. This is more of the literal take on the road to Camp Perry. The actual road. A road of dirt, dust, and asphalt.

My journey down that road began early this morning. Not as early as my usual departure to NRA Headquarters, but there was a reason for that; traffic. The thought of battling Washington’s traffic on the start of a seven hour trip was a little more than intimidating. Add two hours to the seven just to break through the beltway. Using a little history along with the morning’s traffic report, an 8:45am departure was established.

So I climbed into a white Dodge Ram truck, put the A/C for low and cranked up my Sirius/XM Radio. I'm bringing the boys from my favorite New York radio show with me.

Open roads and scattered drivers were all I encountered through the first stage of my trip. Gunston Road, over to Lorton Road before jumping on Interstate 95 headed north. From there it’s 495 at the Springfield Interchange with Maryland in my sights. A breakfast bar to munch on and a Venti Mocha Frap to sip, it wasn’t until I reached Maryland’s 70 West that the problems began.

More on the road to NRA's Pistol Championships at Camp Perry ...

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